General Motors said on Wednesday that it earned $6.4 billion in 2020, a modest decline from the year before, as brisk sales of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the second half of the year offset the damage on its business caused by the pandemic in the spring.
The automaker reported that revenue declined 11 percent to $122 billion from $137 billion in 2019, when it reported net income of $6.7 billion.
“G.M.’s 2020 performance was remarkable by any measure, and even more so in a year when a global pandemic caused companies around the world — including G.M. — to temporarily suspend manufacturing,” Mary Barra, the company’s chief executive, said in a letter to shareholders.
The pandemic forced G.M. and other automakers to close all of their North American plants for about 60 days last spring, and caused a deep drop in sales of new vehicles.
Automakers also struggled in the pandemic with a shortage of semiconductors needed for features like touch screens, computerized engine controls and transmissions. New cars can have more than a hundred semiconductors.
The shortage of chips is expected to last well into 2021. This led G.M. to cut its forecast for operating profit this year by $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
In a conference call with reporters, Ms. Barra said G.M. was working with suppliers to ensure it had the chips it needed, and it expected to be able to make up for any lost production over the course of the year.
“The semiconductor shortage won’t slow our growth plans, and without mitigation strategies we still expect to see a very good year for General Motors,” she said. “Right now, we won’t lose any production as it relates to full-size trucks and S.U.V.s throughout the year.”
Among the full-size vehicles the company is counting on is an electric Hummer pickup truck that it will begin delivering late this year. It is one of 30 electric cars G.M. plans to introduce by 2025 as part of a broader goal it set late last month to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
The company currently makes only a few electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Bolt, but it is spending heavily to increase its offerings and compete with Tesla, the leading electric carmaker. This year, G.M. will spend more than $7 billion on developing electric and autonomous vehicles. By 2025, it plans to spend more than $27 billion on those two technologies.
United Airlines plans to invest in and buy as many as 200 aircraft from Archer Aviation, an electric air taxi start-up that announced plans on Wednesday to go public, in a deal that Archer said valued it at about $3.8 billion.
“Part of how United will combat global warming is embracing emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel,” United’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, said in a statement on Wednesday. “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation.”
United is investing about $20 million in Archer, and an additional $5 million will come from Mesa Airlines, which operates regional flights for United and others. The airline’s tentative aircraft order is valued at up to $1 billion, Archer said in a statement. United said it would only purchase the aircraft once they were available and had met its operating and business requirements.
The aircraft, which can travel at speeds of up to 150 miles an hour for up to 60 miles, would be used within the next five years to let United’s customers commute in dense urban areas or quickly reach the airline’s airport hubs, United said. The aircraft are set to debut this year, according to Archer, which is based in California.
The news follows United’s announcement late last year that it plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050, in part by investing in a “direct air capture” plant in Texas that will remove carbon dioxide from the sky and inject it underground.
Archer said it planned to go public via a sale to a blank-check company, also known as a special purpose acquisition company. The combined company is expected to raise about $600 million from…